Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and a leading cause of death from cancer among U.S. women. Although we create major awareness for research in finding a cure one major factor that needs additional attention in the reduction of a woman’s risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is breastfeeding.
Hormones play a major role in breast cancer reduction. Majority of women that breast-feed particularly exclusively experience hormonal changes during lactation that will delay your menstrual period. The longer this delay of your menstrual period coupled with the longer duration of breast-feeding and the number of children reduces a woman’s lifetime exposure to hormones like estrogen, which can promote breast cancer cell growth.
In addition, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, you shed breast tissue. This shedding can help remove cells with potential DNA damage reducing your chances of developing breast cancer.
Reduction in risks is as follows:
- Mothers who breastfed for a lifetime total (combined duration of breastfeeding for all children) of 1 year were slightly less likely to get breast cancer.
- Mothers who breastfed for a lifetime total of 2 years got about twice the benefit of those who breastfed for a total of 1 year.
- Mothers who breastfed for a lifetime total of more than 2 years got the most benefit. (NIH)
Compared to white women, black women have nearly twice the rates of triple-negative and ER− breast cancer subtypes, a more aggressive cancer compared to white women. And again, we emphasize Black women in the U.S. have lower rates of breastfeeding which doesn’t help the reductions of breast cancer diagnosis.
Studies have suggested that breastfeeding reduces breast cancer risk among childbearing women, and there is mounting evidence that this association may differ by subtype such that breastfeeding may be more protective of some invasive breast cancer types. (CDC)
The support surrounding the benefits of breastfeeding must increase so that women are informed of the risks of not breastfeeding. This blog post is not an issue of Fed Is Best but life and death. Breastfeeding benefits both baby and mother both short and long term.
If you’re interested in learning more about the data about breastfeeding and cancer click here.